Partnership extends reach of PCACS ramp program
Each new ramp has a story behind it – as well as tears.
“It makes such a difference for folks. There’s tears every time,” said Bob Westfall, ramp program coordinator with the Valparaiso Noon Kiwanis club. “We did one recently in Portage where the caregivers had been carrying their 87-year-old father in and out for dialysis.
“We were able to put in a steel ramp in an hour and I tell you … Everyone’s eyes lit up. Ramps are especially helpful for those caring for these folks.”
Porter County Aging and Community Services has added the Valparaiso Noon Kiwanis Club team as another avenue to assist community members with access to their homes.
The steel structures became a key offering for the Kiwanis team, which took over the program from the now disbanded Rebuilding Together.
“Sometimes, after we would put a wood ramp in, the individual would end up going to a nursing home and their kids would come in and want us to take it out,” he said. “We decided to go to metal. We let our clients use them as long as they need them.”
The steel structures vs. wood can be a fit if it is a temporary situation, such as a surgery or if an individual is going through rehabilitation. They can typically be installed in about an hour.
“We have had some ramps that don’t fit what (measurements) we are limited to, so wood may be a better choice,” he said. “We have funds, but we do take donations. We have high school kids and fraternities assist us. We have more help than we need.”
PCACS Executive Director Bruce Lindner said the Kiwanis crew is a great complement to the volunteer groups that assist with wood ramps, such as the UAW/Ford Community Service Team, Task Force Tips, Habitat for Humanity and Thrivent for Lutherans.
“We now have better flexibility to match the best material for each individual ramp recipient, depending on their needs and the layout of their properties,” Lindner said. “We are grateful for all of our volunteers who assist us with our ramp program year after year.”
Westfall said Valparaiso’s Kiwanis club is the largest in the state and has two main fund-raisers every year: a pancake breakfast in March and a corn roast set for Aug. 3 this year in Central Park Plaza. The Kiwanis group also supports Riley Children’s Hospital.
“We help the world by helping one child and one community at a time,” he said.
PCACS is currently accepting applications for Porter County residents who are in need of a ramp, whether it’s something temporary or a more permanent structure. Renters must have permission from the landlord to have a ramp installed.
While those facing financial challenges will be given priority, all community members are welcome to apply for ramp assistance.
Goody bag donations
The team at Graceland Cemetery continues to donate gift bags for PCACS transportation clients.
“We supply quarterly gift bags with toiletries, snacks, puzzle books, pens and tablets,” said Heather Baumeyer, family service adviser at Graceland, one of the oldest cemeteries in Porter County.
Baumeyer said the donations are part of a desire to make an impact and serve region communities.
“We hope to give back to the elderly because they’ve given so much to us,” she said. “We simply hope to brighten the day of the folks utilizing the bus service and visiting PCACS.
“Based on our experience, we fell that sometimes the elderly can be forgotten. We want to provide them with a sincere gift of our appreciation.”
Baumeyer works with families on pre-arrangements as well when they have lost a loved one.
“At Graceland, we want to continue to honor the heritage that our families have trusted us with for over 100 years.”
Partnership Brings Everyday Essentials to women
By teaming with non-profit I Support the Girls, we are able to gather and distribute everyday essentials to local women.
Our office, 1005 Campbell St. in Valparaiso, is now a collection site for community members to donate new and used bras, new underwear and feminine hygiene products. We will then connect our clients in need to these items.
I Support The Girls has its roots in Indianapolis and is now serving women throughout the United States and world. Launched in January 2016 by Rachael Heger, the organization offers an easy avenue to make an impact and help others.
“It’s a specific ask. Women are good and want to help. It’s a specific instruction on how to help out women,” Heger said. “It’s not one of these lofty things to make a difference like running for office. Anyone can pick up an extra box of pads while at a store.”
To date, ISTG has distributed more than 3 million products.
“It really started by accident and has spiraled. I was just going to collect bras to donate to one woman,” she said. “One thing led to another and within the first 10 days I had 99 bras. That’s when I realized that I had something.”
Heger sees her organization as a way to let social service organizations focus on their particular mission and goals.
“We can take this kind of need off their plates. This is my goal,” she said. “I am not a social worker. I am actually a librarian. I can’t solve poverty, addiction or those types of major issues, but I can make sure women don’t need to worry about having a bra. It’s a little thing that is a big thing.”
Our team is honored to have the opportunity to fill an additional need for our clients by creating this new partnership.
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Thank you Nipsco!
We are so appreciative of the support that we received from NIPSCO. The company has sponsored our new TV, which will be enjoyed by our clients and utilized by our staff for training.